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  • I'm David Brockway. I'm the manager of the Great Men Project.

  • We deliver workshops on gender equality

  • to teenage boys in schools across London and the South East.

  • Our topics include sexual harassment, homophobia, pornography and consent.

  • But especially, we talk about masculinity, feminism

  • and what it really means to be a man.

  • Adult men don't really talk about these issues very much.

  • We want to get that conversation normalised

  • starting at an early age.

  • We use participatory activities, such as word association games.

  • These allow the boys to explore stereotypes

  • that might be in their heads.

  • We'll ask them to talk about the first word that comes into their head

  • when they think of a certain topic.

  • For instance, when they're asked to think about men

  • they may come up with brave, strong or daring.

  • For women, they may come up with gentle, kind and caring.

  • So then we ask how and why?

  • What causes these stereotypes?

  • Where do the boys get ideas like

  • it's weak for men to cry, or men are strong, women are weak.

  • Most of the boys have never had conversations like this before.

  • Our most powerful moments are when we have lightbulb moments.

  • When boys have the opportunity, through talking to each other,

  • to realise that some of these ideas that they think they know

  • are actually a result of conditioning and the world around them.

  • Toxic masculinity is talked about a lot these days.

  • We would define it as..

  • On top of the litany of negative consequences

  • that these behaviours have for women and girls,

  • there are also many negative consequences for men and boys.

  • At the top of this list would be mental ill health and suicide.

  • Suicide rates in this country

  • are currently much higher for men than they are for women.

  • In our workshops we find that boys have a lot of difficulty

  • expressing their emotions, accepting emotional vulnerability

  • and admitting to any form of weakness.

  • Our workshops encourage boys to critique phrases such as,

  • "Man up" and "Take it like a man."

  • Which are really saying boys don't cry,

  • and boys don't ask for help when they're feeling down.

  • The phrase "Man up" is particularly important for us.

  • It's two words that, put together, mean absolutely nothing,

  • but any man can tell you that, when told to do so,

  • they know exactly what was expected of them at that time.

  • For years, the responsibility of dealing with these problems

  • has been on women.

  • Grappling with sexism, sexual harassment and harassment at work.

  • We feel that solving these issues is equally the responsibility of men.

  • That's why it's so important to get these conversations started early,

  • to bring boys into this discussion so they can have a chance

  • to not take forward those negative ideas and stereotypes.

  • One of our most difficult topics is pornography.

  • Our approach is not to shame anyone, but to ask questions such as,

  • "is this a good place to learn about sex?",

  • "Can this be degrading?" and "Where's the consent in this?"

  • We aim to educate the boys about the porn industry

  • to tell them that it can often be unsafe and coercive for women,

  • that the things on display are rarely representative

  • of a mutually pleasurable sexual experience.

  • Sometimes the boys we work with

  • go back to a home environment

  • that is contrary to all of the things we've discussed.

  • What they are taught and learn from the media

  • is the total opposite of discussions they had with us.

  • Healthy relationships are about respecting, caring and communicating.

  • Our aim is to plant a seed

  • that will allow the boys we work with to start questioning these things

  • and create their own version of being a man.

I'm David Brockway. I'm the manager of the Great Men Project.

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B1 masculinity harassment sexual pornography man sexual harassment

The damage caused by toxic masculinity | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/04/23
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